William Blake and The Body of Vision, by Rosalind Atkinson

Vision and De-Vision: Sexuality, Slavery, and the Fall of Perception

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.33.55

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.33.33

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 13.52.03

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

Introduction to William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion

This essay examines how almost the entire critical discussion of Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion enacts the exact dynamics (which we could anachronistically label ‘rape culture’) that the poem itself dramatises in order to dissect. I hope it can be of interest beyond Blake enthusiasts to anyone wanting to understand if being interested in ‘how we perceive’ affects our political and social ideas and positions, and to anyone interested in how dualistic ways of seeing (encompassing transcendence and materialism equally) abuse our bodies and the world.

Read More

The Sleep of Albion and the Fall into Division, by Northrop Frye

How the Sleep of Imagination Produces Dissociation 

sleep2-jpeg

Any attempt to explain Blake’s symbolism will involve explaining his conception of symbolism. To make this clear we need Blake’s own definition of poetry:

Allegory addressed to the Intellectual powers, while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding, is My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry; it is also somewhat in the same manner defined by Plato.

The “corporeal understanding”, according to Blake, cannot do more than elucidate the genuine obscurities, the things requiring special knowledge to understand (such as the contemporary allusions in Dante), or the literal mechanics of a poem (meter, structure, general themes etc). The “intellectual powers” go to work rather differently: they start with the hypothesis that the poem in front of them is an imaginative whole, a unique and irreplaceable event, and work out the implications of that hypothesis. The way that poetry is generally taught in schools therefore, by converting it into “corporeal understanding” – into a form of machinery – completely misses its whole point, like explaining a joke or analysing a dead body to find out what makes it tick.

‘Excrement’: John Keating’s apt description of the corporeal understanding’s approach to poetry

Read More

Blake and the Spiritual Body, by Northrop Frye

Awakening from the Material Body

0d8621c - we see the world not as it is but as how we are-we see the world not as it is but as we are (1)

The central idea of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, to put it crudely, is that the unrest which has produced the French and American revolutions indicates that the end of the world might come at any time. The end of the world, the apocalypse, is the objective counterpart of the resurrection of man, his return to the titanic bodily form he originally possessed. When we say that man has fallen, we mean that his soul has collapsed into the form of the body in which he now exists.

Read More

The End of Nature:  Blake and Pantheism, by Rod Tweedy

Babylon, Nature-worship, and the Sleep of Albion 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!’

As Kathleen Raine has noted, “the sleep of Albion is in a word the materialist mentality of the modern West.” However, this “materialist mentality”, for Blake, denotes not only the belief in the Newtonian universe of orthodox Science, which many are now questioning, but also the belief in “Nature” itself. For Blake, the “Creation” – the emergence of an apparently objective, natural, and material world – and Albion’s fall into “Sleep” were one and the same event.

Read More